Do you feel exhausted lately? Are you having a hard time carrying out your usually routine because you get tired easily? Maybe you might have low iron, especially if you are a woman.
Let us understand the important role of iron in our body so we know what can happen we don’t get adequate amount of it, and when to take iron supplements.
Importance of Iron
Iron is an important mineral that is needed to help transport oxygen all throughout the body.
Hemoglobin is a substance found in red blood cells and it carries blood to parts of the body. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin. Without sufficient amount of iron your body can’t make adequate resilient oxygen carrying red blood cells. The condition where red blood cells are low is called anemia.
Inadequate healthy red blood cells would result to insufficient oxygen supply in the body. When this happens, you will easily get fatigued and this can affect brain function as well as the ability of your immune system to fight infections. For pregnant women, low iron could result to a small baby or a danger of premature delivery.
How much iron do you need?
The amount of iron that you need depends on your overall health, age and gender.
Toddlers and infants need more iron compared to adults. This is because their body is growing rapidly. For kids aged 4-9 years old, they need 10 mg of iron a day. Whereas those aged 9-13 needs 8 mg a day.
During puberty women need more iron than men because they lose blood ever month through their menstrual cycle. To maintain normal levels of iron in the body, women from 19-50 years old need 18 mg of iron. On the other hand, men only need 8 mg. a day.
If your iron is low, eating food rich in iron may not be enough to supply your needed iron. Ask your doctor if you need to take iron supplements.
How to take iron supplements
- Before taking any iron supplement check the label and manufacturer’s information found inside the box.
- Iron is better absorbed if taken an hour before meal, but to avoid stomach irritation, take it after eating.
- Take the supplement the same time every day to avoid forgetting.
- If you missed taking the supplement just take the next dose and leave out the missed dose.
Just like any drug or supplements, there are side effects in taking iron supplements. Side effects include stomach pain, diarrhea and constipation.
If you experience stomach pain, try eating small, frequent meals.
For problems with diarrhea, make sure to rehydrate by drinking plenty of water. As for constipation, increase fiber in your diet.